In this Article
- What is a caregiver?
- Who are our nation's caregivers?
- What is caregiver stress?
- How can I tell if caregiving is putting too much stress on me?
- What can I do to prevent stress or relieve stress?
- What is respite care?
- What is the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)?
- How can I find out about caregiving resources in my community?
- What kind of caregiver services can I find in my community?
- What kind of home care help is available?
- How will I pay for home health care?
- Who is eligible for Medicare home health care services?
- Will Medicaid help pay for home health care?
- For more information
Who are our nation's caregivers?
About one in four American families or 22.4 million households care for someone over the age of 50. The number of American households involved in caregiving may reach 39 million by 2007.
- About 75% of caregivers are women.
- Two-thirds of caregivers in the United States have jobs in addition to caring for another person.
- Most caregivers are middle-aged: 35-64 years old.
What is caregiver stress?
Caregiver stress is the emotional strain of caregiving. Studies show that caregiving takes a toll on physical and emotional health. Caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers. Limited research suggests that caregivers may also be more likely to have health problems like diabetes and heart disease than non-caregivers.
Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort, and work. Plus, most caregivers juggle caregiving with full-time jobs and parenting. In the process, caregivers put their own needs aside. Caregivers often report that it is difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition, and doctor's visits. So, caregivers often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated, and sad.
Caregivers for people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other kinds of dementia are particularly vulnerable to burnout. Research shows that most dementia caregivers suffer from depression and stress. Also, studies show that the more hours spent on caregiving, the greater the risk of anxiety and depression.
Women caregivers are particularly prone to feeling stress and overwhelmed. Studies show that female caregivers have more emotional and physical health problems, employment-related problems, and financial strain than male caregivers. Other research shows that people who care for their spouses are more prone to caregiving-related stress than those who care for other family members.
It is important to note that caring for another person can also create positive emotional change. Aside from feeling stress, many caregivers say their role has had many positive effects on their lives. For example, caregivers report that caregiving has given them a sense of purpose. They say that their role makes them feel useful, capable and that they are making a difference in the life of a loved one.
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